Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - All the Beautiful Lies

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

This week's book is highly anticipated by me.  The author has written previous books that I have enjoyed very much - Her Every Fear and The Kind Worth Killing.  Both of them were written with themes from Hitchcock films.  I'm not sure if this one has that same vibe, but I'll be glad to see.  I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  April 3rd

Harry Ackerson has always considered his stepmother Alice to be sexy and beautiful, in an "otherworldly" way. She has always been kind and attentive, if a little aloof in the last few years.

Days before his college graduation, Alice calls with shocking news. His father is dead and the police think it’s suicide. Devastated, Harry returns to his father’s home in Maine. There, he and Alice will help each other pick up of the pieces of their lives and uncover what happened to his father.

Shortly after he arrives, Harry meets a mysterious young woman named Grace McGowan. Though she claims to be new to the area, Harry begins to suspect that Grace may not be a complete stranger to his family. But she isn’t the only attractive woman taking an interest in Harry. The sensual Alice is also growing closer, coming on to him in an enticing, clearly sexual way.

Mesmerized by these two women, Harry finds himself falling deeper under their spell. Yet the closer he gets to them, the more isolated he feels, disoriented by a growing fear that both women are hiding dangerous—even deadly—secrets . . . and that neither one is telling the truth.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - kay's favorite books to read again and again...otherwise known as 'my comfort reads'

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Books I Could Re-read Forever', which I have, as usual, adjusted a bit to 'kay's favorite books to read again and again...otherwise known as 'my comfort reads'.

I actually wrote a blog discussion post about this a few years ago here.  I'm not going to repeat everything I said in it, but I will start with the same three quotes.  After that will come 10 books that I've read again and again.

I also will say that I know that not everyone likes to re-visit books favorites.  My top reason is probably to derive comfort when life gives me lemons - which it certainly has from time to time.  And I agree with the 3rd quote:  reading is indeed my refuge.

"Tell me what you read and I'll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I'd know you better if you told me what you reread.   ~~Francois Mauriac~~

When you reread a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.     ~~Clifton Fadiman~~

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.     ~~W. Somerset Maugham~~

These 10 (OK, more than 10) books are in no particular order and I almost certainly enjoy and reread other books by the same authors, especially series books.

1.  The Secret - Julie Garwood -  historical romance - Scottish Highlands - a reluctant midwife and a Scottish laird

2.  Die For Love - Elizabeth Peters - mystery set at a romance writers convention - funny - big floppy hats, lots of hearts and valentines - and a body

3.  The Crying Child - Barbara Michaels - spooky old house in Maine - what's in the attic?

4.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the rest of the story - J.K. Rowling - it's Harry Potter - enough said

5.  A Murder is Announced - Agatha Christie - Miss Marple - a murder invite in the paper and you can come - Or if your tastes run to Hercule Poirot, Cards on the Table - 4 sleuths and 4 possible murderers

6.  Dance Upon the Air, Heaven and Earth, Face the FireNora Roberts - the Three Sisters Island trilogy - romance and witches - what more do you want?

7.  The Shop on Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber - knitting and female friendship - plus a little romance - also the other books in the Blossom Street series

8.  Virgin River - Robyn Carr - a community in the Northern California hills - this whole series is delightful - romance and a great cast of characters

9.  Bootlegger's Daughter - Margaret Maron - the whole Judge Deborah Knott mystery series - set in North Carolina and including the very large Knott family - love these on audio

10.  A Share in Death - Deborah Crombie - the whole Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James mystery series - the way the relationships develop and all the interesting things you learn about London and other English locations - and the maps! 

This has been a fun exercise.  I could have listed so many more, but I won't.  So, do you reread books?  Why or why not?  Suggestions for me?

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Woman in the Window - A. J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

First Paragraph(s):

Her husband's almost home.  He'll catch her this time.
     There isn't a scrap of curtain, not a blade of blind, in number 212--the rust-red townhome that once housed the newlywed Motts, until recently, until they un-wed.  I never met either Mott, but occasionally I check in online: His LinkedIn profile, her Facebook page.  Their wedding registry lives on at Macy's.  I could still buy them flatware.

My Thoughts:

The Woman in the Window is one of the most anticipated and publicized debuts in a while.  I was not sure it could possibly live up to all the hype - and it did in most ways, for me anyway.  Before I started it, I knew that it had a 'Rear Window' vibe to it and that it was about a woman who saw the world through her windows and her online activity.  She didn't leave her house and was, in fact, agoraphobic.  I find that condition very scary, probably because I could pretty easily imagine myself falling into it.  Anxiety is something that I have experienced most of my life and I've had a panic attack more than once.  The descriptions of those in this book seemed very real.  I liked the references to Hitchcock and old black-and-white movies.  That actually made me want to take notes and seek out the films mentioned to watch at a later time.  The self-destructive behavior of Anna, the protagonist, was harder to read about.  Her thought processes as she excused herself for combining alcohol and prescription meds were so sad.  Some of the twists were anticipated by me (my mind loves plot puzzles to solve) and a couple were not.  I think this one would film quite well, if the script was a good one.  All in all, in my opinion, it deserved much of the hype.  I liked it a lot and will definitely be watching for this author's next book.  Recommended.


It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Wife Between Us - Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

First Paragraph(s):

She walks briskly down the city sidewalk, her blond hair bouncing against her shoulders, her cheeks flushed, a gym bag looped over her forearm.  When she reaches her apartment building, her hand dips into her purse and pulls out her keys.  The street is loud and busy, with yellow cabs racing by, commuters returning from work, and shoppers entering the deli on the corner.  But my eyes never stray from her.
     She pauses in her entryway and briefly glances back over her shoulder.  An electrical charge seems to pulse through me.  I wonder if she feels my stare.  Gaze detection, it's called--our ability to sense when someone is observing us.  An entire system of the human brain is devoted to this genetic inheritance from our ancestors, who relied on the trait to avoid becoming an animal's prey.  I've cultivated this defense in myself, the sensation of static rising over my skin as my head instinctively lifts to search out a pair of eyes.  I've learned the danger of dismissing that warning.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book quite a bit, though I think I might be hitting my limit for a while with psychological thrillers.  That happened to me last year and I had to take a break from them.  I listened to this book on audio (yes, I really like audio for my walking time) and it was very ably narrated by Julia Whelen.  I've read a couple of other books by Sarah Pekkanen and am a fan.  Greer Hendricks is a debut novelist, but she's been Sarah's editor for most, if not all, of her books.  They know each other well and did a little interview segment at the end of the audio.

So, what can I tell you about the book?  Well, I'm not going to say much at all.  This is one of those that the less you know, the better it will be.  Read the blurb below if you want a couple of hints.  Yes, there were things I guessed.  No, I didn't guess all of them.  I was surprised more than once.  And only annoyed a few times.  One of the authors that blurbed the book said it was like a 'house of mirrors'.  I think that's a good analogy.  If you've ever been to the fair and gone into 'The Fun House', one of those weird walk-through rides where the floor shifts and there are spinning things and a house of mirrors.  You feel a little upside-down.  This book turns up and down and all around more than once.  Enjoy and don't get dizzy!


When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.

Twisted and deliciously chilling, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen's The Wife Between Us exposes the secret complexities of an enviable marriage - and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

Read between the lies.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Force of Nature - Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

First Paragraph(s):

Later, the four remaining women could fully agree on only two things.  One:  No one saw the bushland swallow up Alice Russell.  And two:  Alice had a mean streak so sharp it could cut you.

The women were late to the rendezvous point.

My Thoughts:

After enjoying Jane Harper's first book, The Dry, last year, I was excited to see another crime novel featuring Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk.  I did like him.  I've listened to both books on audio with Stephen Shanahan as narrator - he does a great job.  Force of Nature takes us to a different part of Australia and the temperature is certainly at the opposite end of the spectrum from The Dry.  It's cold, very, very cold.  Falk and his new partner, Carmen, are working with Alice Randall regarding some criminal activities at her workplace.  She will be their whistle blower and she's given them some financial documentation that they need, but has promised more.  Alice and others at her company, including the top executives, are attending a corporate retreat first though.  I can't imagine going camping in the wilderness with work colleagues, but this is what happens.  The men and women go on separate hikes and everyone is supposed to join up again in a few days.  However, the women are late and they come back without Alice, who has disappeared.  Aaron and Carmen, fearing that someone from the company has learned of Alice's meetings with the feds, join in on the hunt.

As I said, I really like Aaron Falk and I especially like his new partner.  I think she will be a good match for him.  The people on the corporate retreat are a pretty unlikable bunch, especially Alice.  We mostly see things from the women's point of view and the action takes us back and forth from the investigation to the actual events that happen on the retreat.  As in The Dry, the setting is described quite vividly and so it's easy to see how the group could get off course.  I can't imagine a company sending people off with so little preparation, but that's what happens.  I suspected some of the plot twists, but not all.  All I can say is that for many of us, there were 'mean girls' when we were kids and teens and there are 'mean girls' when we are grown up as well.

Will I be looking for Jane Harper's next book?  Absolutely.  We're discussing The Dry at our mystery group meeting in March and I'll be telling everyone to be sure and pick up Force of Nature as well.  This one is recommended. 


When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - The Other Mother

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I've chosen for this week is by an author who wrote two books I sampled last year - Carol Goodman.  I read River Road and The Widow's House.  Liked the second one better than the first, but both were enjoyable.  I meant to continue reading her backlist, but best intentions, right?  This week I'm waiting on her new book:

Publication Date:  March 27th

When Daphne Marist and her infant daughter, Chloe, pull up the gravel drive to the home of Daphne’s new employer, it feels like they’ve entered a whole new world. Tucked in the Catskills, the stone mansion looks like something out of a fairy tale, its lush landscaping hiding the view of the mental asylum just beyond its border. Daphne secured the live-in position using an assumed name and fake credentials, telling no one that she’s on the run from a controlling husband who has threatened to take her daughter away.

Daphne’s new life is a far cry from the one she had in Westchester where, just months before, she and her husband welcomed little Chloe. From the start, Daphne tries to be a good mother, but she’s plagued by dark moods and intrusive thoughts that convince her she’s capable of harming her own daughter. When Daphne is diagnosed with Post Partum Mood Disorder, her downward spiral feels unstoppable—until she meets Laurel Hobbes.

Laurel, who also has a daughter named Chloe, is everything Daphne isn’t: charismatic, sophisticated, fearless. They immediately form an intense friendship, revealing secrets to one another they thought they’d never share. Soon, they start to look alike, dress alike, and talk alike, their lives mirroring one another in strange and disturbing ways. But Daphne realizes only too late that being friends with Laurel will come at a very shocking price—one that will ultimately lead her to that towering mansion in the Catskills where terrifying, long-hidden truths will finally be revealed....

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Authors I guess I'm no longer reading...for whatever reason

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is 'Books I've Decided I'm No Longer Interested In Reading'.  Well, I decided to change that up a bit and share some 'Authors I guess I'm no longer reading...for whatever reason'.

I have read widely in the mystery series realm.  In times past, learning about what was new or even what was on the bestseller lists was much harder.  My only option was to visit the library and go up and down the aisles looking for great books.  Sometimes I would get recommendations from the library staff or from my few friends who were readers.  In any case, there were authors that I discovered and read each and every book that they wrote - sometimes as they wrote them and sometimes I even read a series 'out of order'!!!  I know - crazy, right?  Time passed and I found more and more new authors.  And for whatever reason - possibly I got tired of the characters or got annoyed about the way the author killed a main character or even that I got busy and kind of 'forgot' about the series - I stopped reading some authors.

Here are 10 of them and, honestly, I know I'll not go back and catch up.  Some may be your favorites, which is great.  They are just not mine anymore.

1.  Patricia Cornwell - loved her Kay Scarpetta series until I didn't

2.  J. A. Jance - read her Joanna Brady series and also her Ali Reynolds series

3.  Jonathan Kellerman - read a bunch of his Alex Delaware series

4.  Faye Kellerman - was so excited when I found her Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus books - the first, The Ritual Bath, was a favorite

5.  Elizabeth George - I read so many of her Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers books - enjoyed the TV adaptations

6.  James Patterson - read the Alex Cross series for a long while and also the Women's Murder Club series

7.  Clive Cussler - read a bunch of his Dirk Pitt books a long while ago

8.  John Grisham - I remember when I read The Firm and The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill - so interesting and really good - probably my first legal thrillers

9.  Mary Higgins Clark - read all of her books in the '70's, '80's, '90's

10.  Sara Paretsky - I loved all the V.I. Warshawski books until about 2000

This was kind of a depressing topic - ha!  However, I am delighted that it is so much easier to find good books of all genres and types these days.  And, if you notice, all of these authors are pretty mega-successful.  Good for them!

Me, I'm off to find more new and mid-list authors with great stories to tell.  I'll be reading...


Monday, February 19, 2018

The Wife - Alafair Burke

The Wife by Alafair Burke

First Paragraph(s):

In an instant, I became the woman they assumed I'd been all along: the wife who lied to protect her husband.
     I almost didn't hear the knock on the front door.  I had removed the brass knocker twelve days earlier, as if that would stop another reporter from showing up unannounced.  Once I realized the source of the sound, I sat up straight in bed, hitting mute on the TV remote.  Fighting the instinct to freeze, I forced myself to take a look.  I parted the drawn bedroom curtains, squinting against the afternoon sun.

My Thoughts:

I listened to this book on audio, narrated by Xe Sands, and liked it quite a lot.  I think the only other book I'd read by Alafair Burke was The Ex, which was pretty good.  Olivia Randall, one of the main characters in that one, is also part of this story as a defense attorney.  Angela Powell, the protagonist, is sort of hard to get to know.  She has reasons for wanting her life to stay private and the fact that her well-known husband is accused of sexual misconduct, well, that quickly becomes problematic.  The reader follows along and doesn't quite know what to think.  Has Jason, the husband, actually done the things he's accused of?  Is he lying to Angela?  Will her past be discovered and revealed by the media or even her husband as part of his defense?  Does Jason know everything about Angela's past?  Who do we believe?  And then, one of the women accusing Jason goes missing and the action ramps up even further.  I liked the SVU police detective that was investigating the alleged crimes.  I wasn't quite as sure about Angela and a couple of the other people in her life.  I did not like Jason.  I was wrong about many of my initial assumptions.  The puzzle was good here and I had a great time guessing this way and that.  In the end, I didn't quite have it all figured out, which made it fun.  I hope we'll see the detective in another book, and I look forward to what Alafair Burke writes next.   


When Angela met Jason Powell while catering a dinner party in East Hampton, she assumed their romance would be a short-lived fling, like so many relationships between locals and summer visitors. To her surprise, Jason, a brilliant economics professor at NYU, had other plans, and they married the following summer. For Angela, the marriage turned out to be a chance to reboot her life. She and her son were finally able to move out of her mother’s home to Manhattan, where no one knew about her tragic past.

Six years later, thanks to a bestselling book and a growing media career, Jason has become a cultural lightning rod, placing Angela near the spotlight she worked so carefully to avoid. When a college intern makes an accusation against Jason, and another woman, Kerry Lynch, comes forward with an even more troubling allegation, their perfect life begins to unravel. Jason insists he is innocent, and Angela believes him. But when Kerry disappears, Angela is forced to take a closer look—at both the man she married and the women she chose not to believe.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Bookish Nostalgia - February 2018

Welcome to Bookish Nostalgia for February 2018.  I've kept records of books I read for over 25 years and I enjoy looking back through my reading journals to see what I was reading 5, 10, 15, and 20 years ago.  Let's see what I remember about what I was reading in those years:

February 1998 - The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas was a very interesting book.  The time period is the 1930's.  The setting is Kansas during the Depression.  There's a women's quilting group that gets together to sew and gossip and improve their minds.  One member decides to solve a mystery and eventually the whole group gets involved with unexpected results - really unexpected.  This book was maybe the second book written by this author.  I liked it very much!

February 2003 - In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming is the 1st book in the author's series set in upstate New York.  The main characters are Reverend Clare Fergusson and Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne.  This series now includes 7 more books and I'm hoping that Julia will complete another for us, her fans.  It's been my wish to go back and reread the books that I've sampled already and then continue with the ones I haven't read.  Clare and Russ take a bit of time to get used to each other and become friends.  It's complicated because he is married and she is an Episcopal priest.  She's also a military veteran - helicopter pilot.  The weather and location play a big part in this first story.  It's a good one!

February 2008 - The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - I read this book when I was still working at the library.  It was just a wonderful book and so very unique.  The combination of illustrations and narrative was fascinating and it got passed around from staff member to staff member very quickly.  The wonderful thing about it was that it won the Caldecott Medal, which is given for children's picture books.  This book is over 500 pages and it's not exactly a picture book or a graphic novel or a novel.  It's unique.  Selznick wrote and illustrated it and there has been a movie made since. 

February 2013 - The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - This was the first Morton book that I read.  It includes a castle and a mystery and sisters that have secrets.  It's a bit Gothic.  A long book telling the story of Edie who comes to the area to learn about her mother's experience living there as a child who was evacuated during the war.  After reading this book, I knew that Kate Morton would be an author I'd try again. 


And so we end this month's Bookish Nostalgia.  Have you read any of these books or authors?  Hope you'll join me again next month to see what March books I remember from my journals.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Need To Know - Karen Cleveland

Need To Know by Karen Cleveland

First Paragraph(s):

I stand in the doorway of the twins' room and watch them sleep, peaceful and innocent, through crib slats that remind me of bars on a prison cell.
     A night-light bathes the room in a soft orange glow.  Furniture crowds the small space, far too much of it for a room this size.  Cribs, one old, one new.  A changing table, stacks of diapers still in their plastic.  The bookcase Matt and I assembled ourselves, ages ago.  Its shelves now sag, overloaded with the books I could recite by heart to the older two, the ones I've been vowing to read more often to the twins, if only I could find the time.

My Thoughts:

Sigh.  It's very, very hard for me to know what to say about this book.  I guess, first of all, I'll say that I listened to it on audio, narrated by Mia Barron.  She did a good job, but I got so frustrated with the main character that perhaps I should have read it in print instead.  Somehow, listening to the choices and thought processes of Vivian Miller made them even more annoying to me, probably because we heard her question herself over and over and over again.  So, sigh.  Need To Know has some very big names blurbing it, even my own favorite Louise Penny.  And there is a lot of this story that is timely and relevant and it does make you consider 'what if it were me?' or 'what would I do?'.  You think about your country and the meaning of treason.  In the story, Vivian Miller, a CIA analyst, finds evidence that indicates someone very close to her is a Russian sleeper agent.  And what should she do?  Well, I know what I thought she should do.  I also know that this character had, in my opinion, too many TSTL moments to overlook.  In case you don't know, TSTL is 'too stupid to live'.  I hate that.  Oh, and if I had to hear the word 'kids' again...it was more than a bit repetitive.  Say children or little ones or something.  Sorry.  Don't mean to rant. 

I rarely finish a book that isn't working for me.  I usually stop and move on.  However, I do sometimes keep going for whatever reason.  My reason here - I thought I knew what would happen, or most of it anyway, about 5 minutes into the book.  Maybe a little longer than 5 minutes, but you get the idea.  And...I had to see if what I guessed was correct.  In the end, I was correct, and I was satisfied and liked the book a tiny bit better for that.  However, I did suffer in my own way getting to that point.  Now, you may have loved this book.  Many have.  Film rights are already sold.  The author was herself a CIA analyst.  She should know her stuff.  Bottom line - I'll be charitable and say, as this is a debut book, I'll try another by Karen Cleveland.  Maybe in print.

If you've read this book, I would dearly love to know your thoughts on it.  Really.  Perhaps this is one that I'll like better once some time passes.  That happened with The Girl On the Train, but not with Gone Girl, for me in any case.  And I guess that's all I'll say.  That wasn't too bad was it?


In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family—and her life. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—is threatened.‎

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - I'll Keep You Safe

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I've selected this week is from a favorite author, Peter May.  Even though the title hints at a romantic concept, it's not a very Valentine-ish book.  Sorry!  The story takes place partly in my favorite Peter May setting, the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  Our mystery group will be reading Peter May books for our May meeting.  Yes, I know - I didn't even think about that when I planned it.  Ha!  This book will definitely be one I'll complete by then.  I'm waiting on:

Publication Date:  March 6th

Friends since childhood, and lovers and business partners as adults, Naimh and Ruairidh are owners of a small Hebridean company, Ranish Tweed, that weaves its own very special version of Harris Tweed. It is a very small company but their fabrics have become internationally sought after as a niche brand in the world of fashion and haute couture.

As they prepare for an important showing at the Première Vision fabric fair, held in Paris every year, they fight in their hotel room--Niamh suspects Ruairdh of having an affair with a Russian fashion designer they work with but he insists this is a lie and storms off. Moments later, Niamh watches in horror as the car containing her partner and fashion designer explodes in a ball of flame.

With Niamh a prime suspect in the murder, the Parisian police hound her even after she returns to Harris to bury the pitiful remains of her lover and business partner. Amid the grief and struggles that follow, she begins to suspect that things are not what they seem; and when there is an attempt on her life, she becomes convinced that what seemed like a terrorist attack on her lover might be something more personal by far...

💕💕💕Happy Valentines Day!!!💕💕💕

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - kay's favorite couples in mystery series...yes, there can be a bit of romance in crime novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is a 'Love Freebie' and so I've decided to talk about my 'Favorite Couples in Mystery Series'.  Some of these are partners or friends or 'more than friends' or married.  Some have moved through those steps.  And, as I said in the title, yes, there can be a bit of romance in crime novels!  You knew I was going to bring the topic around to mysteries and thrillers, right?

I worried a little bit about spoilers here, but honestly, if you read many of the blurbs for these ongoing series, you'll get the idea about the couples.  And, as I said above, many of them moved through several steps before they got to the true 'couple' status.  I read many mystery series because I enjoy visiting the characters over and over and finding out what is next in their lives.  Sometimes, love is next.

1.  Eve Dallas and Roarke - J.D. Robb - Eve is a homicide lieutenant in the New York Police.  Roarke is an ex-criminal who has more money than he knows what to do with (billions).  46 books in the series.  Naked in Death is the first. 

2.  Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache - Louise Penny - Armand is now Chief Superintendent of the  Sûreté du Québec.  Reine-Marie is a retired librarian.  They are a lovely, lovely couple who anchor these books through the storms.  13 books in the series.  Still Life is the first. 

3.  Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson - Elizabeth Peters - Amelia is an Egyptologist and Emerson is an archaeologist in late 19th and early 20th century England and Egypt.  A very devoted and 'equal' couple.  20 books in the series.  Crocodile on the Sandbank is the first. 

4.  Daisy Dalrymple and Alec Fletcher - Carola Dunn - Daisy is a well born woman who becomes a journalist in the 1920's.  Alec Fletcher is a Detective Inspector with Scotland Yard.  22 books in the series.  Death At Wentwater Court is the first.

5.  Alafair and Shaw Tucker - Donis Casey - The Tuckers own a large farm in rural Oklahoma in the early 1900's.  They have 10 children.  Alafair is the sleuth, with Shaw to keep her grounded.  10 books in the series.  The Old Buzzard Had It Coming is the first.

6.  Deborah Knott and Dwight Bryant - Margaret Maron - Deborah is a district court judge in Colleton County, North Carolina.  Dwight is a deputy sheriff in the same county.  Deborah has a very large family - 11 older brothers - and her father was a bootlegger.  20 books in this now completed series.  Bootlegger's Daughter is the first.

7.  Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne - Julia Spencer-Fleming - Clare is an Episcopal priest and Russ is the Chief of Police in Millers Kill, New York.  Their relationship is complicated.  8 books in the series.  In the Bleak Midwinter is the first.

8.  Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James - Deborah Crombie - Both Duncan and Gemma work for Scotland Yard.  He is a Detective Superintendent and she is his Detective Sergeant.  17 books in the series.  A Share in Death is the first.

9.  Thomas and Charlotte Pitt - Anne Perry -  Set in Victorian times, Thomas is a police inspector and Charlotte is his well-born wife.  Charlotte's family and social connections are often valuable in solving the crimes that Thomas investigates.  32 books in this series.  The Cater Street Hangman is the first.

10.  Kate Burkholder and John Tomasetti - Linda Castillo - Kate is the Chief of Police in Painters Mill, Ohio, which has a significant Amish population.  Tomasetti is an agent with the state police.  9 books in the series.  Sworn to Silence is the first.   

There are many more couples in mystery series, but these are the ones that come to mind first.  And I'll leave you with one more couple (or maybe two) - not from a mystery - but from a swashbuckling book, The Princess Bride.  When thinking of great couples, who doesn't think of Westley and Buttercup?  However, I also think of Miracle Max and his Valerie.

Hope your Valentine's Day is a happy one!  

Monday, February 12, 2018

Forty Dead Men - Donis Casey

Forty Dead Men by Donis Casey

First Paragraph(s):

December 1918

Scott Tucker, constable for the town of Boynton, Oklahoma, was glad to have his deputy back.  His eldest son, Slim Tucker, had made an adequate fill-in deputy while Trenton Calder was away on a ship in the North Atlantic, fighting the War to End All Wars, but Slim was an oilman down to his toes, and though he had done his duty to his father, his heart hadn't been in it.  Slim was now back surveying for the Pure Oil Company, where he belonged, and Trent had donned his badge again.

My Thoughts:

Oh, how I love this series!  I really do.  In this 10th book featuring Alafair Tucker and her family, our early 20th century timeline has moved on to 1918-1919.  The war that took both of Alafair's sons away is at an end.  The older, Gee Dub, has returned home.  Charlie, the younger son, is still away.  Gee Dub has always been a steady, level-headed individual.  He has 8 sisters and he handles that well.  He's a natural sharpshooter, a person that would certainly be a sniper in today's military or police force.  However, Alafair is troubled.  She knows that Gee Dub has come home different, so very different.  And she understands that war will change a man, but still...she's worried.

As we wind our way through the story, we meet a few new characters and revisit familiar faces.  Each of Donis Casey's books in the series have focused in a way on one of the Tucker children.  The previous book's story included the Spanish flu epidemic (1918) and how it affected and changed the people of Boynton.  The results of the flu are still apparent here and still touching lives.  Many of the soldiers returning home were either stricken as they came back on US shores or brought the flu home to their loved ones.  Forty Dead Men includes a returning solder that is found dead, a victim of the flu.  It also includes a young woman searching for her soldier husband.  Gee Dub comes across the woman and her story impacts the Tucker family in a big way.

So, what would I suggest if you're interested in this series?  Well, of course I would suggest that you begin at the first book, The Old Buzzard Had It Coming.  However, the author does include a list of characters at the beginning and tells how they are connected.  There is also a map and recipes at the end.  Though I've never tried any of the recipes, many of them make me smile.  They remind me of my grandmothers and my great-grandmother.  My mother's family was from Oklahoma, not far from where the Tuckers would have lived.  I hope that Donis Casey continues writing this series for a long time to come, though I have heard that she doesn't want to include the Dust Bowl in her tales.  Still, I'll be watching for the next book.  This series is highly recommended if you like historical family tales with a mystery or two to liven things up.


World War I is over. Alafair is overjoyed that her elder son, George Washington Tucker, has finally returned home from the battlefields of France. Yet she is the only one in the family who senses that he has somehow changed.

Gee Dub moves back into his old bunkhouse quarters, but he's restless and spends his days roaming. One rainy day while out riding he spies a woman trudging along the country road. She's thoroughly skittish and rejects his help. So Gee Dub cannily rides for home to enlist his mother in offering the exhausted traveler shelter.

Once made comfortable at the Tucker farm, Holly Johnson reveals she's forged her way from Maine to Oklahoma in hopes of finding the soldier she married before he shipped to France. At the war's end, Daniel Johnson disappeared without a trace. It's been months. Is he alive? Is she a widow?

Holly is following her only lead - that Dan has connected with his parents who live yonder in Okmulgee. Gee Dub, desperate for some kind of mission, resolves to shepherd Holly through her quest although the prickly young woman spurns any aid. Meanwhile, Alafair has discovered that Gee Dub sleeps with two cartridge boxes under his pillow - boxes containing twenty "dead men" each. The boxes are empty, save for one bullet. She recognizes in Gee Dub and Holly that not all war wounds are physical.

Then Holly's missing husband turns up, shot dead. Gee Dub is arrested on suspicion of murder, and the entire extended Tucker family rallies to his defense. He says he had no reason to do it, but the solitary bullet under Gee Dub's pillow is gone. Regardless, be he guilty or innocent, his mother will travel any distance and go to any lengths to keep him out of prison.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friends and Other Liars - Kaela Coble

Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

First Paragraph:

Look at them.  I'm dead and they're still pissing me off.

My Thoughts:

Friends and Other Liars is the debut book for author, Kaela Coble.  It's the third book that I've read in the last few weeks with Vermont as the setting.  Interesting how that happens sometimes.  If you read the blurb below, you might think that this is primarily a thriller - secrets, death, friends, more secrets, letters to each threatening to reveal what's hidden - it sounds scary.  However, I discovered that this book is much more about old friends and relationships - you know the kind - the ones that knew you back when you were at your middle school worst.  The ones that were there when you experienced the bad break-up or when that awful thing happened at the prom or the ones you went to when your parents were fighting or split up.  Danny, Ruby, Murphy, Emmett and Ally - the crew.

Years have passed since high school.  Ruby is the only one that left Chatwick, Vermont.  She returns for Danny's funeral and sees her old 'crew' again.  They are all given envelopes from Danny.  Each contains a secret.  Danny says they have to share the secrets with each other and if they don't - well, sometimes things come into the light anyway.  The story is told from various characters' viewpoints and goes back and forth in time.  The secrets do eventually come to light, but the characters have to learn to trust each other again before that happens.  Each has to face some truths about themselves and the others.

I enjoyed this book very much, though it was not the fast paced story that I thought it would be - more of a character study.  It made me think about my own life and the friends that I was close to back in the day.  What would we have done for each other?  How had our lives changed over the decades since that time?  The comfort and eventual sweetness of the relationships depicted was quite satisfying.  I liked how Danny, the friend that was gone, narrated the first and last part of the tale.  I was pleased as I got to the final words.  I'll definitely watch for the next book that Kaela Coble shares with us.     


To all my old friends:
So here you all are. Nice to see you can show up for a person once he's dead.

When Ruby St. James returns to her hometown, it is to the grave of her old friend Danny, a member of a group that was, ten years ago, Ruby's whole world. The crew made a pact back then: stay together, stay loyal, and stay honest. But that was before all of the lies.

Because even friends keep secrets. They just don't stay secret for long.

Now Danny has left behind a letter for each of them, issuing one final ultimatum: share your darkest betrayal to the group, or risk it coming out in a trap he has created. When past mistakes resurface, the lines of friendship blur, and four old friends are left trying to understand what it means to lie to the ones you love best.


Kaela Coble lives in Burlington, Vermont, and is a member of the League of Vermont Writers and a graduate of the WoMentoring Project. This is her first novel.

Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing me with a copy of this book.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dark in Death - J. D. Robb

Dark in Death by J. D. Robb

First Paragraph(s):

On the mega screen bloody murder played out in classic black and white for an audience of one hundred and seven.  With the sharp screech of violins, violas, and cellos that number dropped by one.
     Unlike the character of Marion Crane, Chanel Rylan didn't scream or flail at the shock of violent death.  In row twenty-seven in theater three of Vid Galaxy in New York City's Times Square, she let out little more than a mouse squeak as the ice pick plunged into the back of her neck.

My Thoughts:

Dark in Death is #46 in J.D. Robb's series featuring Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband, Roarke.  I have loved this series.  Truly.  In fact, I listened to the whole thing, #1-45, in 2017.  It was my treat to myself in order to keep my walking quest going.  I'd walk and walk and walk and listen and...you get the idea.  Some books are better than others.  There were aspects of this newest book that were fun and then...well, it was a little underwhelming.  First the fun parts - Hitchcock - as in Alfred.  The book begins as a woman is killed while watching the shower scene of Psycho - yes, Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins.  Have you seen Psycho?  It's a great movie.  There is also a crime novelist and discussion of mystery writing and why people (Roarke especially) read crime novels.  That was fun.  The rest of the story was OK, but not nearly as much action as usual.  I'm not sure if Robb is winding down the series or if this was just one of the books that wasn't quite there.  The recurring character base has broadened over the 46 books, naturally.  Eve and Roarke are still solid with each other, but I think that Eve has been tamed somewhat and so has Roarke.  I missed getting to hear more from a few of my favorites, but again, there were fun parts.  I'll say that Dark in Death was a decent entry into the series, but I'm hoping for more in the next book.  In case you wondered, Roarke says that he reads crime novels for the puzzle and the good vs. evil battle.  I knew I liked that man.  Ha!  Me too!


It was a stab in the dark.

On a chilly February night, during a screening of Psycho in midtown, someone sunk an ice pick into the back of Chanel Rylan’s neck, then disappeared quietly into the crowds of drunks and tourists in Times Square. To Chanel’s best friend, who had just slipped out of the theater for a moment to take a call, it felt as unreal as the ancient black-and-white movie up on the screen. But Chanel’s blood ran red, and her death was anything but fictional.

Then, as Eve Dallas puzzles over a homicide that seems carefully planned and yet oddly personal, she receives a tip from an unexpected source: an author of police thrillers who recognizes the crime—from the pages of her own book. Dallas doesn’t think it’s coincidence, since a recent strangulation of a sex worker resembles a scene from her writing as well. Cops look for patterns of behavior: similar weapons, similar MOs. But this killer seems to find inspiration in someone else’s imagination, and if the theory holds, this may be only the second of a long-running series.

The good news is that Eve and her billionaire husband Roarke have an excuse to curl up in front of the fireplace with their cat, Galahad, reading mystery stories for research. The bad news is that time is running out before the next victim plays an unwitting role in a murderer’s deranged private drama—and only Eve can put a stop to a creative impulse gone horribly, destructively wrong.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday - Cave of Bones

I'm posting a 'soon to be released' book on Wednesdays.  These will always be books that I am particularly looking forward to.  I'll be linking up to 'Can't-Wait Wednesday' hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and plan to take part in this each week.

The book I selected for this week is the 4th book in a series that is a spin-off of another series I loved many years ago.  Tony Hillerman was a well-loved mystery author who wrote about the Four Corners area of the Southwest.  His main protagonists were Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.  I loved that series.  After his death, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, with her mother's blessing, continues the Leaphorn and Chee stories.  Joe and Jim still appear, but the focal character in Anne's books is Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito, married to Jim Chee.  While Anne's style is not exactly like her father's, I am well satisfied with how the characters are portrayed.  And love the beautiful, spare New Mexico and Arizona settings.  This week I can't wait for:

Publication Date:  April 3rd  

When Tribal Police Officer Bernadette Manuelito arrives to speak at an outdoor character-building program for at-risk teens, she discovers chaos. Annie, a young participant on a solo experience due back hours before, has just returned and is traumatized. Gently questioning the girl, Bernie learns that Annie stumbled upon a human skeleton on her trek. While everyone is relieved that Annie is back, they’re concerned about a beloved instructor who went out into the wilds of the rugged lava wilderness bordering Ramah Navajo Reservation to find the missing girl. The instructor vanished somewhere in the volcanic landscape known as El Malpais. In Navajo lore, the lava caves and tubes are believed to be the solidified blood of a terrible monster killed by superhuman twin warriors.

Solving the twin mysteries will expose Bernie to the chilling face of human evil. The instructor’s disappearance mirrors a long-ago search that may be connected to a case in which the legendary Joe Leaphorn played a crucial role. But before Bernie can find the truth, an unexpected blizzard, a suspicious accidental drowning, and the arrival of a new FBI agent complicate the investigation.

While Bernie searches for answers in her case, her husband, Sergeant Jim Chee juggles trouble closer to home. A vengeful man he sent to prison for domestic violence is back—and involved with Bernie’s sister Darleen. Their relationship creates a dilemma that puts Chee in uncomfortable emotional territory that challenges him as family man, a police officer, and as a one-time medicine man in training.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top 10 Tuesday - Authors that have been on my TBR list for a long, long time and I still haven't tried their books...

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly event that is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic actually is 'Books that have been on my TBR the longest and I still haven't read'.  Well, I decided to tweak that a bit and am sharing 'Authors that have been on my TBR list for a long, long time and I still haven't tried their books'.  There are definitely a few of those and almost all have long-running mystery series.

So, here's a question - do you ever keep avoiding reading a series because, quite frankly, it's just gotten too long?  And you might be a reader who prefers to start at the beginning and read in order.  Sometimes, I look at the backlists of great mystery authors and sigh - too many books to catch up.  Here are some of those authors and their older and newer books:

1.  Charles Todd - mother/son writing team that I have seen in person more than once.  There are about to be 20 books in their Ian Rutledge series and soon will be 10 books in their Bess Crawford series.  The first books in each series are A Test of Wills and A Duty to the Dead

2.  Rhys Bowen -  very prolific author that is multi-awarding winning and nominated.  She writes several series - Molly Murphy has 17 books, Royal Spyness will have 12 this year, the Constable Evan Evans series had 10 books.  This author has also branched out into standalones with In Farleigh Field coming out last year and The Tuscan Child being published two weeks from now.

3.  Hank Phillippi Ryan - She's a current on-air investigative reporter from Boston and also a well-known author.  Her Charlotte McNally series had 4 books and the Jane Ryland series is up to 5.  There will also be a standalone novel published in August called Trust Me.  Maybe I should start there.

4.  Victoria Thompson - This lovely author will have 21 books in her Gaslight mystery series this year.  And she also had a standalone or maybe series debut published in 2017, City of Lies.  One of our mystery group members loves the Gaslight books and is always encouraging me to try them.

5.  Catriona McPherson - This author is a native of Scotland transplanted to the US a number of years ago.  And she is so funny in person - truly.  Her series is the Dandy Gilver historical books - 13 this year.  She also writes very interesting (though I've mentioned I haven't read them yet - bad Kay!) standalone novels with the best covers.  Also, a new series will begin this year - the first book is Scot Free, coming out in April.  Start there, right?

6.  John Connolly -  This author has been recommended to me many times by Cath at read_warbler.  He writes the Charlie Parker series - 16 books this year - which is a bit of mystery and bit of something else.  Connolly has also penned a few standalones and shorter series.  The first Charlie Parker book is Every Dead Thing.

7.  Donna Leon - This author lives in Venice, Italy, and it's where her mystery series is also set.  She has been on my list for decades, literally.  Her protagonist is Commissario Guido Brunetti - 27 books this year.  The first is Death at La Fenice.  I have several friends who love these books.

8.  Cara Black - For some reason I am not a big fan of books set in France or Italy - not sure why.  However, I've also wanted to read this author's Aimee Leduc series.  There will be 18 books describing murder in Paris this year.  Again, I have friends who love this author and her books.  The first one is Murder in the Marais

9.  Yrsa Siguoardottir - This Icelandic author is newer to publishing than many of the others here, but I think I've had her on my list since her first book was translated into English.  She wrote the Thora Gudmundsdottir books - 6 in all - and has started a new series, Children's House - first book - The Legacy - comes out next week.  She also has at least 3 standalone books.  I want to read several books set in Iceland this year.

10.  Colin Cotterill -  This author has been recommended to me more than once by Cathy at Kittling: Books.  Cathy has an amazingly broad knowledge of mystery authors and books and reads all across the spectrum.  Cotterill, who lives in Thailand, writes the Dr. Siri Paiboun books - 13 this year.  The first in the series is The Coroners Lunch.  The time period is the 1970's and Dr. Siri is a coroner in Laos.  Interesting, right?

Have you read any of these authors' books?  Do you like them?  Suggestions on where to start?  Tell me everything!!  Ha!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sleeping Murder - Agatha Christie - Classics Club Read #2

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

First Paragraph(s):

Gwenda Reed stood, shivering a little, on the quayside.
     The docks and the custom sheds and all of England that she could see, were gently waving up and down.
     And it was in that moment that she made her decision--the decision that was to lead to such very momentous events.
     She wouldn't go by the boat train to London as she had planned.
     After all, why should she?  No one was waiting for her, nobody expected her.  She had only just got off that heaving creaking boat (it had been an exceptionally rough three days through the Bay and up to Plymouth) and the last thing she wanted was to get into a heaving swaying train.  She would go to a hotel, a nice firm steady hotel standing on good solid ground.  And she would get into a nice steady bed that didn't creak and roll.  And she would go to sleep, and the next morning--why, of course--what a splendid idea!  She would hire a car and she would drive slowly and without hurrying herself all through the South of England looking about for a house--a nice house--the house that she and Giles had planned she should find.  Yes, that was a splendid idea.

My Thoughts:

It's been many years since I first read Sleeping Murder, Miss Marple's last case.  And it's been a favorite of mine since that first reading.  Written much earlier than the 1976 publish date, Christie put the book away and planned that it be published after her death.  Curtain, Poirot's last case, received similar treatment.  It was adapted for TV in 1987 by the BBC with Joan Hickson (my favorite Miss Marple) as the gentle, but shrewd, crime solver.

The main story centers around Gwenda and Giles Reed, young marrieds, and coming to England to live from New Zealand.  Gwenda arrives before Giles and plans to look for a house.  As she does so, she comes across Hillside, the perfect house.  It feels like home.  And then Gwenda starts having strange feelings.  She makes some changes to the house and grounds, things that she thinks seem logical, and in doing so, the workmen find that those renovations had been there before.  Feeling unsettled, Gwenda goes to London to visit some of her husband's relatives and attends a play, The Duchess of Malfi.  A line in the play, 'Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young', causes Gwenda to scream in terror.  She suddenly sees an image of herself looking down at a woman at the bottom of the stairs in her new house - it's Helen and she's dead!

At this point, Miss Marple enters the story and things progress.  I won't share any more, but suffice it to say that the story gets more complicated and our young couple and elderly sleuth are busy figuring out the identity of Helen and exactly what's going on in Gwenda's head.  My daughter and I watched the TV adaptation long ago - probably in the '90's - and there's a line about 'monkey's paws' and 'dead Helen'.  That scared my girl so much that she wouldn't watch this story again for a long, long time.

I listened to Sleeping Murder on audio and it was narrated by Stephanie Cole.  She did a good job, but I wished that it would have been Joan Hickson's calm voice in my ear.  To me, she was the perfect Miss Marple.  So glad that this Christie favorite was my second choice for my Classics Club venture.

'It's really very dangerous to believe people.  I never have for years.'
~~Miss Marple~~


Miss Marple’s last case, Sleeping Murder, was written over 30 years before it was published and sees Miss Marple solve her final mystery.

Soon after Gwenda moved into her new home, odd things started to happen. Despite her best efforts to modernise the house, she only succeeded in dredging up the past. Worse, she felt an irrational sense of terror every time she climbed the stairs. In fear, Gwenda turns to Miss Marple to exorcise her ghosts. Between them, can they solve a crime committed many years before?